Drive trust through authenticity and values, says BITCMay 2015
Fair and respectful treatment of employees is the most important sign of a responsible business in the eyes of the public, reports a Business in the Community (BITC) survey.
Altogether 92% of the people interviewed said ethical attitudes towards employees would be a vital consideration if they had two identical job offers.
An employer’s treatment of customers would be a criterion for 90% of job applicants, and the safety and reliability of products and services would be important to 89%, said the survey.
Other criteria were the promotion of health and wellbeing, which would influence 86%, flexible working (79%), support for efforts to place young and disabled people in work (72%), and workplace diversity (71%).
However, only just over half of those wishing to change jobs in the next 12 months said their employers treated them with respect, compared with 85% of employees without plans to leave inside two years. Furthermore, nearly one in ten employees reported they had felt pressured to do something unethical, and only 22% were proud of their employers’ roles in their communities.
Despite this, the respondents’ view of big business was generally positive. Six in ten thought corporates made welcome contributions to the community and seven in ten employees said they would speak approvingly of their employers without being asked.
Of all respondents, 46% saw treating employees with respect as showing corporate responsibility, 33% rated treating customers with respect, 32% making safe and reliable products, and 21% tax transparency.
Stephen Howard, the BITC chief executive, said of all the figures and percentages: “It’s clear that the outdated idea of responsible business as being about giving cash or ad hoc CSR activity is over. While these things do have positive impacts, there is far more to being a good business than simple philanthropy, and the public and employees know this.
“To be perceived as responsible, a business must be authentic and have values that influence everything it does, from how it treats employees and uses natural resources to how it operates within the community and down their supply chains.
“We urge employers to prioritise how they engage and communicate with their employees. Doing so will drive trust and pride in business and create a culture within businesses that encourages staff to do the right thing. It’s only by getting it right on the inside that we will see more businesses make a meaningful con-tribution to society.”
Howard used airtime on BBC Radio to explain that businesses need to think more about employees’ health, flexible working and diversity of opportunity, but was then pressed on public views on profit. He emphasised that profit was not the purpose of a business, but the result of its conduct.
BITC, the charity that promotes the principles it considers essential in a fairer society and to a sustainable future, commissioned the survey from Ipsos Mori to mark Responsible Business Week .
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